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Royal Pains finale: Mark Feuerstein and EPs answer questions

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Giovanni Rufino/USA Network

The sun has set on the Hamptons, at least as far as Royal Pains is concerned, as the series finally bid its bittersweet adieu to the HankMed crew on Wednesday night. As the cast and crew promised, the story of Dr. Hank Lawson and his tight team of family and friends ended in a conclusive way. Not only did we finally see Hank find his place in the world, but he also rekindled a fan-favored romantic relationship and his much-sought after happy ending.

Following the tearful conclusion to the series, EW caught up with series star Mark Feuerstein and co-creators Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch to discuss the show’s emotional conclusion, those few questions that were still left unanswered, and what they hope will happen to these characters even beyond the epilogue.

Divya is off to medical school now, and it’s a no-brainer that she’ll excel in that program. Will she return to the Hamptons?

MICHAEL RAUCH: We definitely loved the decision of Divya to go off to medical school, and Hank’s support of it. I think in our minds, she definitely comes back to the Hamptons to practice as a doctor and as a part of HankMed.

Can you reveal the location where Boris and his family ended up?

ANDREW LENCHEWSKI: Our idea is that he is somewhere in the Caribbean, possibly back in Cuba where we spent the first couple of episodes of season 2. Actually, I’m sorry, we shot those in the first couple of episodes, they were I think in episodes 4 and 5 of season 2, but we revealed that he was very connected to that place, he had a big hacienda down there. So, our idea is that he is either there or somewhere very nearby.

One character missing from this season was Emma. Did you guys ever have plans to bring her back or was Willa Fitzgerald’s schedule with MTV’s Scream in the way?

LENCHEWSKI: She’s the lead on Scream, and it became clear pretty quickly that it would just be prohibitive from a scheduling standpoint to ask her to juggle both things, and that was a huge disappointment to us because we thought she did an amazing job in her season arc. And we very much wanted to keep her around because in a show that is so much about family, obviously it was a glaring omission to have the newest member of the family suddenly, conspicuously absent. Having said that, as we started to break the end of the series, and we realized just how much we were caring in terms of stories that we owed conclusions to, and questions we don’t have answers to, I think we… embraced having the room to really focus on the characters who had been at the show’s core since the very beginning.

Giovanni Rufino/USA Network

 

Michael, you directed the “Saab Story” episode where we met Hank’s mentor, Dr. Wickham. How important do you think it was for Hank to get Dr. Wickham’s approval of what he’s been up to?

RAUCH: I think it was really important both the notion of his disapproval in the beginning. And I think for us it was a matter of both the individual story itself in terms of for the arc of that episode of Hank discovering that the character didn’t — and then of course coming around to respecting what Hank’s doing. But also, for us in the writer’s room, it served as part of the map of Hank throughout the series, of getting the recognition from someone in the medical field he probably respects more than anyone in terms of the job he’s done to help Hank in the big picture feel more complete as a physician in the Hamptons, and as a member of the community, which is what we were building to propel him to go to make the choice he does at the end of the finale.

FEUERSTEIN: If I could add a little metaphorical significance to that relationship: it’s a question for Hank of has he changed, now that he’s out in the Hamptons? Has he gone Hollywood or something and forgotten his roots and what he’s been through at the beginning? And I just want to say that thanks to Michael and Andrew, who were kind of our patria nostras for the cast and crew, no one did get too big for their britches on Royal Pains. And over eight seasons, everyone pretty much remained who they were and stayed humble and stayed true to that, and so I feel like Dr. Wickham was a nice sort of metaphor for that.

Another enjoyable part of “Saab Story” was that you brought in the significance of the Saab. Do you think Jill still has her Saab as well?

RAUCH: First of all, that goes to Connie Burge, who wrote the episode. I just had to shoot it. And it’s all the writers and the notion of we had all these things in seasons 7 and 8 that we wanted to bring back to the show, and that was a great one obviously set up by Andrew. But I have no doubt that Jill’s Saab is sitting somewhere in [a local] garage so she can use it when she comes back.

NEXT: What’s in a name? …

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One of the things I loved the most about Hank was how he always saw through symptoms, which physicians aren’t always known to do, and cared about the wellbeing of his patient, no matter their attitude or origin. Where did that sense of humanity come from, since his father obviously didn’t have it?

FEUERSTEIN: I think there are some people who learn by following the great examples set for them by their parents, and then there are other people who have the conviction of having discovered it on their own, having had no good example, and that Hank is the latter and it’s all the more strong in him, that commitment to being a virtuous, noble doctor staying true to his Hippocratic oath, because he has discovered it all for himself.

LENCHEWSKI: From the writing perspective, and this is a very personal answer, but Hank was largely inspired by my dad who was a physician, and his name was Enrique, and Enrique is Spanish for Henry, and Hank, of course, is the nickname for Henry. So, when I was first writing the character, I very, very much had in mind how beloved my father was by all of his patients. And when we were telling Hank’s story, our point of view was that he was never just a doctor helping patients with injuries or illnesses, he was a human being helping other human beings with problems. That’s really the sense of humanity that we brought to everyone in the medical storyline to make sure that the relationship between Hank and his patients wasn’t just about symptoms he was seeing. It was about the human being he was seeing inside and what they were struggling with, apart from the medical.

FEUERSTEIN: And having had my wisdom teeth taken out by Enrique Lenchewski, I can attest to his humanity.

Giovanni Rufino/USA Network

 

It seems like Boris’ background, as revealed in the finale, is the origin for the show’s title. Is that true?

LENCHEWSKI: The original name of the show was actually Sick Rich, and the network didn’t care much for that title. So, I pitched them this new one which was — even before what we reveal at the very end about Boris — obviously in the pilot, Hank is meeting a man who is very much a king in his castle, and so this was a show about an average guy from an average background catering to the royalty of the Hamptons, and he would be dealing with both their difficult personalities but also really seeing beneath that to their very human identities and crises and struggles. So the title we ended up with was a play on that, but really, the title never stopped haunting us until the final day, because you can’t believe the number of people who loved to come up to us on set and make a joke invoking the term “royal pains” as though we’d never heard the joke before, and I’m sure, Mark, you get it more than anybody.

FEUERSTEIN: Although we could have gone with the title the show has in, I forget, is it Prague or somewhere else?

RAUCH: Poland.

FEUERSTEIN: Banana Doctor. It was called Banana Doctor.

The finale offers an epilogue with a little piece of the future for these families, but do you have any other individual hopes about what happens to these people after this is all said and done?

LENCHEWSKI: One of the things we really hoped to accomplish with this finale was to both provide a satisfying ending to these journeys, both for each character individually and for the family collectively, that we felt we owed after eight seasons, so hopefully there is some sense of closure, and, at the same time, what that coda is meant to suggest is that these characters’ journeys individually and together are really just beginning. So, I love the idea that that moment that we gave the audience a glimpse of three years into the future, is a moment that they could really get a glimpse of four years into the future, and five, and 10, and 20. That every Sunday afternoon of every summer, you’ll find the Lawson family sitting in the backyard enjoying a picnic with each other as the family continues to grow and thrive.

RAUCH: I would just put on top of that, it’s like 104 episodes of slowly bringing these people together to this cohesive family center, and one of the things I like about the end of the series is that you also feel like each one of them now has this grounded and safe core to go off on their own adventures. So, the characters themselves are both gonna always be together and at the same time, exploring their own individual paths.

LENCHEWSKI: When Mark brought up Banana Doctor, I remembered there was another one just as good as that, and I had to find it because I couldn’t remember. In Japan, the show was called Emergency M.D. Hank: Celebrity Medical Files.

FEUERSTEIN: (Laughs) And I think that’s really my wish for Hank is that he treats more celebrities as time goes on.

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